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Minneapolis firefighters start fire watch at homeless encampment

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Minneapolis homeless encampment
Burned debris from a fire at the Minneapolis homeless encampment lines the curb near Hiawatha Avenue on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. These items were burned in a fire early Friday; it was the second large fire at the encampment in recent weeks.
Max Nesterak | MPR News

The Minneapolis Fire Department has started an overnight fire watch at the homeless encampment along Franklin and Hiawatha avenues.

Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said the department has a truck stationed on the Hiawatha Avenue bridge overlooking the encampment. He said that vantage point lets the crew monitor for fires in the encampment — and if there is a fire, they can respond as quickly as possible.

The encampment has seen two significant fires and a number of smaller ones in recent weeks as residents struggle to stay warm around campfires. Several tents burned in each of the two larger fires, but there were no reports of serious injuries.

Minneapolis homeless encampment
Newly fallen snow coats walkways and tents at the Minneapolis homeless encampment on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018.
Max Nesterak | MPR News

Tyner said the fire watch will continue "for the foreseeable future," as long as the encampment is at that location.

The fire department also has set up a warming tent with a generator, across the street from the encampment. The warming tent is open during the day, and also provides a place for residents to eat meals.